Fairy Tales Revisited; Mirror, Mirror, is the second in a series by Jeanne Jaffe which examines the darker side of fairy tales and explores the ways that they are relevant to contemporary life. Building on her installation of Little Red Riding Hood as a Crime Scene, this new piece commissioned by Abington Art Center uses the story of Snow White and explores the themes of vanity, envy, and competition.
As one walks into the woods of the Center’s Sculpture Park and approaches two coves of trees, the site unfolds to become a three-dimensional page from a storybook with elements of images and text on both sides of the path. A mirrored house appears and disappears, reflecting its environment with distortion and ambiguity about what is real and what is mirage. Tree knots framing mirrors on several trees capture glimpses of the visitor. A wild boar stands in the cove, stopped in motion. Seven mounds of earth represent the dwarfs who were miners or alchemists and a female figure is potentially both snow white/ Evil Queen. Sprouting from the earth is the text “Mirror, mirror, now it is finished, the game is done, she has lost and I have won.”
According to Jaffe, “One way we define ourselves as a culture is by the stories we tell. The original fairy tales had a dark side that dealt with existential, moral, emotional issues as well as issues of character, death, rebirth, and transformation.“ For the artist, these cautionary tales remain rich with lessons for the modern world.
In case it has been a while since you read it, here is the original story of Snow White from Wikipedia that will help with interpreting the many references found in the work. Click here.